Rather cheekily I am claiming this as my first “Off the Shelf” book as well. It was a birthday gift for Mr Oh Waily, and his birthday is just at the beginning of December. Not much time was spent “On the Shelf” for this little beauty.
Mind you, in this household, a Pratchett has very little chance of surviving a month without being devoured cover to cover.
This, amazingly, is the 39th book in the Discworld series.
Good grief. If this isn’t the biggest series of books set in an author’s own creation, I don’t know what is.
In this outing we are reunited with Commander Sam Vimes, or Blackboard Monitor Vimes, or Sir Samuel Vimes or the Duke of Ankh-Morpork, whichever is the most useful title to him at the time. In this episode we are taken with his Grace and family to the Ramkin country estate where all sort of mischief has been going on.
Goblins. Vermin or a sentient people? That is the question that Sam, Sybil and Young Sam deal with. This takes our valiant po-lees-man through the perils of “country society” and the local nobs who consider themselves to be the lawmakers for the masses, but only if they benefit from it. We delve in to the world of the river boat and take a trip to Quirm just for good measure. And Young Sam develops something of an obsession with poo. All sorts of poo. Above all we finally see Lord Vetinari angry. If only with the crossword compiler of The Times.
There is a load of commentary about people feeling themselves to be “outside” the law, or “above” it and just where that feeling might, in some societies, come from. The theme of bringing into the fold or perhaps redeeming many of fantasy’s villainous groups continues, this time with the goblins. Everyone seems to have redeeming features and we should perhaps take the time to look for them before condemning people outright or setting ourselves above others. That’s what I took from this story.
It all comes together to produce another wonderful read in the Discworld series. Existing Pratchett fans will enjoy it, but I think new readers would benefit from starting at the beginning of the series so that it fits into context.
I’d give it a solid 4 stars. Nicely written, good commentary and the usual dose of very funny moments.